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Weeping Wall in the Winter

Wow.

This place was incredibly beautiful.

One of those overwhelming, pinch myself, is this real experiences.There is a couple month story that goes to this video, so I am going to tell it. I'll even make it interactive with links! (oooo, aaahh)

I think...I think, I may be the first person to take a picture of this in the Winter.. I am not proclaiming that title, but wondering it out loud. Not the first person- who knows what humans have stood here to see this scene, but first person to record it. If anyone has seen other footage, both moving and still, of this in the snow- let me know!

 

Don Jensen invited me to get some Eagle Creek pictures on a particular very rainy day in December. I had a great time with him- he's a hell of a guy! While poking around to take pictures of all the secondary waterfalls, we "found" this from above near the trail. More like "spotted" the Shangri-la scene, but it was downstream, unreachable by us. Three waterfalls poured out of the mossy forested canyon banks, plummeting straight below to a pool with a fall streaming into it. It was incredible! Forgive my crudeness in the analogy, but we were like 10 yr old boys who just spotted a swimsuit model sunbathing through a hole in the fence. We hunted for ways to get down in, but saw nothing. We did our best to get images and video from above, but it was obvious the gold mine was below us in the canyon.

 

After posting video and picture here, Flickrites identified our pictures as the mysterious "Weeping Wall" area. I've heard of this, and seen pictures, but had no idea where it was.

www.flickr.com/photos/donkjensen/5265815917/in/set-721576...

www.flickr.com/photos/bencanales/5267209164/

  

The next month, Aaron Ellingsen and I embarked on a mission to get to this wonderful Shangri-la. He had been hunting it also for the last 6 months. We came outfitted with climbing harnesses and ropes to repel down into the visual Gold mine through a channel I had spotted that seemed more sloped than the rest of the straight drops. Evidently we were spotted by Matt Abinante who saw some crazies trying to repel off the rocks. We got 15' ft down and quickly realized our route of opportunity was actually horribly dangerous. The reason the slot was sloped was because a rotting log was jamming up the slot causing a truck load of rock, mud and debris to back up and accumulate. Once we saw we would have to go underneath the pile-up, we both decided the risk of a landslide on our heads from the rotting log was just too much. With many hours lost, we packed up, and attacked via plan B. The creek itself.

 

We tried the first spot we could get access to the river to head upstream from there. Unfortunately, Aaron's wader's weren't enough for the high winter water level of the creek's flow. Fortunately, I had brought a full body, cold weather wetsuit. I could go upstream! and did so to check things out, sadly leaving Aaron pouting on the creek side.

 

I finally did make it to the Weeping Walls and it was... it's a beautiful place. It's just amazing. Words are kind of... not good enough to describe it. I took a few pictures- but they were terrible in the dimming light. By this point, it was getting dark, Aaron was waiting for me back downstream, and I was exhausted from the day's effort and the weight and heat of the wetsuit. I stumbled, tripped, floated, and swam down to meet back up with him. *laughing* I finished the hike back to the car panting like an old man, taking 2 steps and a breath, 2 steps and a breath.

 

I had no good picture to show for my visit, but we had breached the mine. And wow, it is laced with gold... here's a great take of it in the Summer by Chip Phillips:

www.flickr.com/photos/phillipschip/3439718710/

 

So, since then, I have been wanting to go back. But, this place only works at a high water flow time for the secondary falls on the sides to flow. I have been waiting for a good heavy rain, but also worried about rock slides and debris coming over the edges above on me. And I have also wondered what would it look like iced up?...

 

This last weekend was a wet snowy one. Aaron and I camped out on the flanks of Mt Hood, snowshoeing in knee deep snow to camp out in a 0 degree night. At one point he said, "All this is supposed to warm up this week. The Gorge will start gushing soon..." It sparked a thought, but the excitement of our snow camping distracted me from following it further.

Here's from this weekend:

www.flickr.com/photos/bencanales/5487455802/

 

On Sunday I wanted to come here. It was starting to melt out in the Valley, but the Gorge was still iced up. And this is where i wanted to come. But, I was still tired from the night before shooting stars in the snow. Valorie and I went out to the Gorge but only Multnomah and Horsetail to try some timelapse techniques. The Gorge was beautiful! Iced up and gushing water. It was perfect! I knew Monday was going to be my day to try the Weeping Walls.

 

My alarm went off early on Monday and I woke up to a heavy rain on the roof. It didn't let up the whole morning. I should have still gone, but I didn't. Chalk it up to laziness and dreary weather.

 

So yesterday, I gave it another go. It was raining, but not as bad. I borrowed some more cold weather wet suit gear from a friend (thank you Drew Starks!), and finally left the house around noon. I was really worried about getting knocked out from melting ice or falling rock debris since there are many spots of this hike that are sheer cliffs directly overhead. But, for better or worse, the ice had already melted and all fallen, with merely a fresh coating of 8" snow covering everything. I brought a rock climbing helmet for protection none the less. I was really disappointed to see the ice gone, but very relieved and confident to continue on with the trek with less danger of ice fall. But, things were still falling. On my way out I saw a chair sized boulder come down from the straight cliff drop and slam right onto the trail. .....I started jogging back at that point!

 

I'll stop with the story here and save some more for when I post a picture. It's going to take awhile to adequately process these images to do the scene justice. In the meantime, this video should give you a fix for Waterfall Wednesday :-)

 

But, since I am name dropping all over the place on this post, let me direct to you to some stunning shots taken from Eagle Creek just 2 days before me, on Sunday. I really wish I had their composition and technical skills to pull off these beautiful shots. I need to trade some of my crazy for their skilz..

 

Christina- I love the color temp on this

www.flickr.com/photos/konejita/5485582220/

Andrew- look at the ice!!

www.flickr.com/photos/andrewkumler/5491459231/in/contacts/

Aaron- traditional viewpoint just decked out in snow and ice

www.flickr.com/photos/sicalufakiss/5487535418/

Lance- check out that picture posted below the main one too

/photos/lancerudge/5491464913/in/contacts/

 

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Taken on March 2, 2011